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Liv's latest Race Day Bib Shorts feature the WorldTeam-tested ProComfor chamois and a shiny new look. Updates for 2021 also include improved leg grippers and a refreshed bib strap design, but while the latter is arguably better, it won't be for everyone.
First introduced in 2019, Liv's Race Day Bib Shorts gets an aesthetic rethink for 2021; the signature pinks and purples that launched the brand in 2014 remain, but subtly injected into the iridescent logos on otherwise all-black kit. The resulting look is class, with a shimmer of fun.
I tested a size small, equivalent to a UK 8. I'm usually a 10 for shorts, so I recommend using Liv's size guide when ordering because I measure an 8 on the guide – and these do indeed fit me perfectly.
Their silky smoothness really stands out. It's Liv's own TransTextura fabric, which employs larger yarns next to the skin and finer ones on the outer (to repel water and block wind). While this material shows no evidence of beading when it gets wet, moisture does wick effectively to the interior of the upper layer as advertised – leaving me feeling pretty dry, even with a serious sweat on in the recent sweltering temperatures.
The fabric construction is contoured, with neatly stitched panels which deliver a close, aero-feeling fit (ideal for racing) while strategically-placed flatlock seams aid movement on the bike. These shorts are snug without feeling at all restrictive. That said, after as little as two hours I was left with a lovely pattern of seam imprints across my thighs, because not all the seams are flatlock. Still, while mildly annoying, this didn't affect performance.
The most noticeable change (aside from the colour) is the strap design. Firstly, the neatly-seamed hems of the previous version are gone, replaced with a raw, unfinished look. While this feels cheaper, there's no functional disadvantage and they're hidden anyway.
More importantly, the hook and eye mechanism of the 'over the head' strap is gone in favour of a stretchy one-piece bib. In theory this should be easier (our reviewer Emma found the hook fiddly), but it isn't stretchy enough to get on over my head without dramatically ducking. While I can cope with this at home, it's irritating on the road since there's no easy-pee functionality. This can be forgiven given the shorts' race day focus though.
Once on, the straps' length feels pretty good, with a bit of give atop my shoulders. But there's another let down: the straps sit particularly high on my collarbone where the shoulder section meets the centre. Although it doesn't peep above the neckline of my jersey, I'm left with a restricted feel around the upper chest and neck – less than ideal for race day (or any day). It's certainly higher than on similar rivals, such as Cycology's Women's Logo bib shorts.
There is the obvious intention from Liv to accommodate differing chest sizes with one central strap – this design is absent from parent company Giant's collection – but I think it's at the cost of a slightly restricted feel. Interestingly, Liv's WorldTeam Replica shorts use the conventional design... they're also the same price as the Race Days, should a central strap not appeal.
The rear of the bib – while not featuring any mesh – hosts a strategically-placed cutout for 'great ventilation'. Cycling through the Great British heatwave I can attest that it did take the edge off compared to high-backed versions.
The pad on these shorts (Liv's ProComfor) is the same generously-cushioned one used on their premium offering, albeit without the carbon yarn. It's the most padded option from Liv, aimed at longer rides with triple-density foam and an antibacterial microfibre for moisture control and hygiene. I found them very comfortable, with no obvious heat build up. It's a little too short to the rear for my liking, but that's understandable given the racing focus.
The self-fabric leg cuffs – i.e. it's the same as the rest – gives the whole design a clean look. In action, their double-sided soft compression construction works well too, with only a little need for smoothing out on rides – a clear improvement on the previous iteration, which had a tendency to creep up. While I'm yet to meet a fabric-only cuff that works as well as silicone grippers, they sit pretty flush and firm to the thigh.
Liv claims the fabric will stand the test of time, and certainly after a few washes they haven't lost their shape, and feel as good as new – even those raw-finish bib straps. I'm a bit surprised that Liv recommends handwash only, though – perhaps to avert issues with those huge reflective accents. I've understandably ignored this, and found no issues with machine washing so far.
Despite a 6% increase on the last reviewed pair, the price remains accessible – the vast majority of bibs at this performance level are well over £100. £84.99 is not bad for WorldTeam-tested functionality when compared to, say, these Rapha Women's Pro Team shorts at £140. The best comparison, though, is with Cycology's £85 Logo Bib Shorts which – as mentioned earlier – offer the same central design but with a more forgiving strap.
I so wanted to love these bib shorts from Liv. They look flipping great, and have a lot going for them. The silky finish, contoured panels and wide, flush leg cuffs produce a comfortable fit, and with the generously cushioned pad, reflective logos and effective moisture wicking you're onto a winner for function, too.
So it's unfortunate that the strap design (and arguably the inner seams) let the Race Day Bib Shorts down – at least, they did for me. That said, if you don't mind the strap construction, they're an excellent and fairly-priced option.
Fancy new look and technical improvements meet the same great chamois – the revised straps won't suit everyone, though
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Liv Race Day Bib Shorts
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Liv says: "bring your best look to each ride whether you're between the tapes racing or zipping around town. Designed with our highest-quality chamois- featuring a breathable, antibacterial top layer''so you can get a chafe-free fit and stay cool and dry during tough rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Liv Race Fit
-ProComfor women's specific chamois
-Soft hand feel fabric has excellent structure that holds shape over time
-One piece seamless bib with great ventilation
-Strategically-placed flatlock seams for comfort
-High-visibility dark iridescent reflective accents
Neat stitching on the leg panels, lovely smooth finish, but the straps' new raw finish and restrictive feel are disappointing.
Excellent performance for seated comfort and wicking, and the close fit moves well with the body. Let down by strap inconvenience.
Excellent so far.
The close-fit feel of the shorts and upper is excellent, but the straps were below average for me. That's a 9 and a 4, so 7 is in the middle.
Size chart seems on the small side, but is accurate.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Handwash-only is just impractical. Machine washing is working fine so far...
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great comfort in action. On training rides pee stops will be frustrating, but for racing the bib straps won't be an issue.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The new look. Yes, Liv! Out with the glaring pink and purple and in with the shimmer and stealth. I love it.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's very good – these are much cheaper than the vast majority we've recently tested.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, because shimmer...
Would you consider buying the product? No, because straps
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes (with a strap caveat)
Use this box to explain your overall score
These shorts are excellent in several ways, and below average in a couple of ways, so average out at a 7. With a less restrictive-feeling, high-reaching strap design (and perhaps the okay to machine wash them), they could be an eight.
About the tester
I usually ride: My Scott Foil My best bike is: Oldie but the goldie, CAAD 8
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Triathlon, Audax